Family Philanthropy

In my last blog on “Our Kids and Philanthropy” I shared how I was engaging my daughter in philanthropy through her own Fund and through GIVEOakville, as well as some of the youth philanthropy initiatives that we have planned for 2021 at The Foundation. I also invited stories from readers of their own experiences. Well I didn’t get any personal stories as much as referrals of people I should talk to. So after some very engaging discussions I can share these three family philanthropy experiences with you. 

#1 Tyrrell Family Philanthropy

Andrew Tyrrell, current President of the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (“CCAH”) and a Fundholder shared stories from his youth that prominently feature the late Veronica Tyrrell. For many residents Veronica was a great community builder as the long-time President of CCAH, a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient, coordinator of Carousel of Nations and a member of the board of many local organizations. She was featured in our 2018 Annual Report. 

Andrew, like me, hails from Winnipeg, where he shared one of his first memories of family philanthropy. His parents always sponsored local Christmas parties for organizations in which they were members. He remembers his mother being ill and at the age of seven being terrified at having to make his first solo grocery shopping trip to Safeway for all of the party items – hot dog buns, cups, plates, cookies, pop, etc.- so the party could go on. 

Annual Christmas parties complete with all the treats and his Dad as Black Santa were a tradition that the Tyrrells brought with them when they moved to Oakville. These parties became very well attended by local community members as well as politicians, so Veronica was in the habit of asking people to open their cheque books to support the community. This was one of the ways that CCAH was able to raise funds to support a room in the new hospital’s Maternal Child unit.  

Andrew also recalls his mother sitting down with him annually to ask what he was going to do personally to support charity. Each year he donated a large gift basket that was raffled by the CCAH with the proceeds supporting their good works. Today he is passing on those lessons to his own kids. CCAH is currently fundraising for Oakville Hospital’s Compassionate Care Fund to ensure that people living with diabetes, who are also struggling financially, have access to insulin, test strips and pumps that they need to manage their diabetes. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I can attest to the considerable expense of these items if you don’t have the means and how fundamental they are to my everyday health. Thank you!

#2 Grandchildren 

As the title indicates this story involves a grandmother and her eight grandchildren. She is a longtime Fundholder who created her Family Fund at The Foundation with her late husband. In honour of her late husband who was a very active philanthropist, she asked her grandchildren,  to each identify a local community organization that they would like her to make a grant to and tell her why. Her grandchildren range from 4 to 15 years of age. She gave them until Thanksgiving to make their decision and on Thanksgiving Day they all assembled in a circle for a picnic. She asked each of them to share with the family what organization they had picked and why. Here is what she learned:

  1. Her 15-year-old grandson wanted to support Camp Awakening for Disabled Kids because that is the same facility where he attends camp, so he wanted to support this opportunity for disabled kids.
  2. Her 15-year-old granddaughter supported Lighthouse Centre for Grieving Children as she wanted to make sure kids had the support they needed. She had been an active participant in past Lighthouse events like their annual fundraising run. 
  3. Her 12-year-old granddaughter had two passions: 1) the hospital and 2) those in financial need. So she supported a fund at the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital for those who were experiencing financial difficulty from an illness. 
  4. Her two outdoorsy grandsons’ aged 13 and 7 gave to the Bruce Trail and the Nature Conservancy as that is where their passions lie.
  5. Her 8-year-old granddaughter wanted to fund a cure for cancer so an oncologist neighbor shared information about an experimental pilot project at Queen’s University which she is funding. 
  6. Her two youngest, aged 6 and 4 supported Rescue Dogs, because they have a rescue dog. 

What surprised the grandmother was that no one asked her how much money she was going to give to each organization, and how intently they listened to each other, even the youngest. It is their newest family tradition and she is looking forward to next Thanksgiving to see if their priorities stay the same or change. She is also thankful to have an active way to share her husband’s passion with their grandkids. A lovely legacy and a great example of family philanthropy thank you. 

#3 A Family Fund

My next example comes from another current Fundholder whose Family Fund includes the parents and their two adult children, who have their own families. Again this philanthropic family has been a longtime Fundholder at The Foundation. They divide their Fund’s annual “Available to Grant dollars” to charities three ways – one third to each of the two children and one third to the parents.

As neither of the children live locally anymore, they grant their funds from The Foundation to charities in their local communities. The parents thought that we might not want to share this story because most of the granting goes to charities outside of Oakville. 

I actually think that this emphasizes that our funds can be directed to any organization in Canada that the CRA designates with charitable status. Often people think that we won’t let them grant their dollars outside of Oakville. We certainly provide options for our Fundholders to grant locally, like GIVEOakville, but we can support all charitable passions nationally. The parents emphasized how much easier it is for them to grant through The Foundation’s donor portal. It also assists them with succession planning to have their children as advisors on their Fund through the portal. One less thing to worry about. Again, another great example of family philanthropy- thank you!

I think that this is a great way to engage your family in philanthropy when you don’t live in the same community and likely don’t see each other as often as you would like. This is especially true now as we reduce our social bubbles during the second wave of the pandemic.

So I hope that you enjoyed hearing about these Family Philanthropy practices.

As 2020 draws to a close, it is a year that many are happy is coming to an end. From my perspective I have seen a lot that I hope will carry over into 2021 and beyond with neighbours helping neighbours and families helping families. I have been overwhelmed by the support by our Fundholders, donors and even governments. They have entrusted us with their funds to ensure that their dollars reached those in the greatest need in our community through our trusted charity partners. Last year was a record year of charity granting for us in 2019 – reaching $3.6 million. Remarkably we surpassed that amount in September and I am looking forward to sharing the total granting for 2020 in the New Year. 

From all of us at The Foundation and the Board to our wonderful volunteers, Fundholders, donors, neighbours and friends our warmest wishes to all of you and your loved ones.